3 Restaurant & Brewery Branding Myths

Podcast / June 21, 2018

Welcome to another quick tip episode of the Food Business Podcast. In this episode I'm going to be talking about some common restaurant branding myths. I'm going to go over them and debunk them for you. So with that, let's get into the first myth. 

Branding and advertising are the same thing. 

This is false. So why is it false? Advertising and branding work together, and they should, but they're completely separate things. Branding is the perception that your customers hold of your business. So it's more than just your logo. Obviously you've probably heard that plenty of times. It's more than your business card, more than your website. It's how your staff treats customers. It's how your food is presented. It's what the emotions that the labels on your beer packaging evoke for customers. 

Your advertising is the strategy and tactics to bring customers to your business or to buy your product. 

Here's one way to think of it. Advertising increases sales, while branding increases value. And what I mean by that is your advertising and marketing tactics bring people into your restaurant. So maybe you're running an ad on Facebook, you're running an ad in a magazine or you're doing direct mail. Those are pieces of advertising. Your brand helps build value in your product. And in plenty of cases it can actually allow you to charge more for whatever you're selling, whether it's a restaurant and your food prices can be higher or you a bottle your beer and it allows you to have a higher price. And you can look. You can just go down the craft beer aisle and check out prices and you'll notice. 

The people who have those more common or well known brands are typically a little more expensive. So branding increases value, whereas advertising increases sales. 

So another example is let's say even just having a steak at two different restaurants. So let's say I go to just a little family restaurant and I order a steak and the price is $17 bucks for a nice steak. Then I also go to a steakhouse, like a nice meat chop house and order a steak there and the price is $35, sometimes up to $40. Really, besides maybe some seasoning, those stakes aren't cooked any different. Right? You know, and I know you're saying obviously where the meat comes from, might make it more valuable or it might make it taste better, which is a, that's a good argument, but really the price difference is in the brand and it's an expectation that customers have when they walk into a restaurant. 

So the chop house has a brand that creates expectations for customers that when they walk in and they're expecting to pay a little more to get a nice steak, or you go to a family restaurant and they haven't put any thought into branding and they don't want to spend any money for it maybe. The reason being they're prices are just lower. And that appeals to an audience, but just understand that there's an ability to raise your prices and increase the value for the food that you're putting out or the product that you're putting out, even though that product may be equivalent to another business. 

Good branding is expensive. 

Well, yes, that may be the case for some of those larger brands that you see. Some franchise restaurants are paying more because they can. Branding does not always have to be expensive. You can really spend whatever you want on branding. I would definitely advise spend a little more in and going with an agency who specializes in your industry for branding, for restaurants, breweries and food trucks, or what have you. 

There’s times when you can get branding and graphic design for a smaller cost. One example might be the agencies that you choose to use, a smaller agency typically will cost a little bit less than a larger agency, and that's for obvious reasons. They have a smaller overhead. The teams are lighter. There's not as many people in each team, but generally you're still going to get a similar level of creative work from whichever agency you choose to go with. 

I would definitely suggest working with someone that you know you're comfortable with and that has some sort of expertise in the area that you're in.

Another way to minimize your cost when you’re starting out is to only go with the essentials. This doesn’t mean find the cheapest way to do everything. It means decrease the number of materials you need while having a professional create them. 

Some essential things may be, obviously, your logo is most important. Perhaps you have some necessary items like a menu for your restaurant, signage, a wrap for your food truck or labels and packaging for your beer. There’s no way around those things and it will hurt you to not have them done professionally. Some of the bells and whistles can come later as you grow, like coasters, cool t shirts for everyone, and interior wall graphics when carefully selected paint colors will do. You can also consider exchanging your product for services from professionals to minimize your cost.

I don't need branding. 

Well, uh, you may think that, but you actually already have a brand. Every business out there, every product, already has a brand. The question is, are you in control of your brand? 

Your customers have a perception of you. You must be in control of the perception. What I mean by being able to control is you have control over your product, you have control over how your staff treats customers, you have control over the image of your brand. All of those things go into creating an emotion, creating a perception and building expectations for customers when they come. If I'm going to walk into a restaurant and I am expecting it to be some small casual restaurant and then all of a sudden the prices were really high and I'm paying $100 for a meal, I didn't expect that and I'm likely not going to leave a good review for that place. So you definitely have control over your brand. 

Another thing is, in terms of making or breaking it for your restaurant or other food business, branding may not break your restaurant, but it certainly could make it. What I mean by that is branding, even if you have a bad brand image it may not necessarily cause you to fail, but good graphic design and good branding certainly could help you make it. Bad branding may just hinder you from growth if you have a great product. 

I want to give you one example of a company that has a great brand, but that may not have a great product, at least in what I’ve heard from my inner circles. I don't want to mention their name because I don't want to stir up controversy. They’ve got a cult following. It's a  fast food chicken restaurant that’s become more popular in the south. They just opened a restaurant in the town that I live in and when people heard that they were coming to our town everyone got really excited. They were like, “Oh man, I’m really looking forward to having this new restaurant here.” After it opened, all the reviews that I'm hearing are that the food was just kind of bland. That they just don't love the taste of it and they likely won't be going to that place very often. 

Keep in mind that you could definitely have a great brand and not a great product and your company might make it. Then from there, use branding as a means of growing your business and creating more value for your product. 

So those are the three myths I wanted to cover. I hope you get something from them and if you're starting your own restaurant or your own brewery, I would love to chat with you. You can contact us using the form below, or feel free to just email me at adam at aviditycreative dot com.

Thank you for your inquiry. A real, live person will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

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